Science & Environment

The Salt
10:34 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Globe-Trotting GMO Bananas Arrive For Their First Test In Iowa

Ugandan researcher Stephen Buah and Professor James Dale hold bananas bred to be rich in vitamin A at Queensland University of Technology.
Erika Fish Courtesy of Queensland University of Technology

Originally published on Thu July 10, 2014 6:53 pm

Somewhere in Iowa, volunteers are earning $900 apiece by providing blood samples after eating bits of a banana kissed with a curious tinge of orange.

It's the first human trial of a banana that's been genetically engineered to contain higher levels of beta carotene, the nutrient that our body converts into vitamin A. Researchers want to confirm that eating the fruit does, in fact, lead to higher vitamin A levels in the volunteers' blood.

The volunteers in Iowa may not realize it, but they're playing a small part in a story that spans the globe.

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Science
7:03 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Can't Stand Meetings? Try Taking Away The Chairs

Standing even for part of a meeting could engage your team in more productive collaboration, researchers say.
pixdeluxe/Getty Getty Images

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 11:49 am

The secret to more productive meetings? You might simply need to stand up.

This we know, to some degree. Just take as examples the growing popularity of standing desks, which took off after a flurry of reports found that sitting for long periods of time can significantly, negatively, impact employees' health.

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Research News
5:01 am
Tue July 8, 2014

Some Parole Requirements Could Be Increasing The Crime Rate

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 9:51 am

Prisoners who are released invariably make it back to the areas where they came from. Does this have a positive or negative effect on crime? Research triggered by Hurricane Katrina offers insight.

Shots - Health News
4:07 pm
Mon July 7, 2014

The Secret History Behind The Science Of Stress

Camel marketed smoke breaks at work as time spent relaxing instead of stressing. Camel, 1964.
Stanford University

Originally published on Tue July 8, 2014 3:47 pm

The modern idea of stress began on a rooftop in Canada, with a handful of rats freezing in the winter wind.

This was 1936 and by that point the owner of the rats, an endocrinologist named Hans Selye, had become expert at making rats suffer for science.

"He would subject them to extreme temperatures, make them go hungry for long periods, or make them exercise a lot," the medical historian Mark Jackson says. "Then what he would do is kill the rats and look at their organs."

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The Salt
3:17 am
Mon July 7, 2014

Raw Milk Producers Aim To Regulate Themselves

Charlotte Smith, of Champoeg Creamery in St. Paul, Ore., says raw milk may offer health benefits. But she also acknowledges its very real dangers.
Courtesy of Champoeg Creamery

Originally published on Wed July 9, 2014 9:45 am

A growing number of Americans are buying raw milk. That's milk that has not been pasteurized to kill bacteria.

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Animals
7:55 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Study Shows Penguins Endangered By Waning Antarctic Ice

Originally published on Sun July 6, 2014 12:50 pm

Transcript

LINDA WERTHEIMER, HOST:

You're listening to WEEKEND EDITION from NPR News. A study published in the journal "Nature Climate Change" says, the population of Emperor penguins in Antarctica is in danger. Hal Caswell is a scientist emeritus at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution. He co-authored the report. And he joins us from Amsterdam. Welcome.

HAL CASWELL: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: You've been studying the Emperor penguin population in Antarctica. What's happening to them?

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Krulwich Wonders...
7:03 am
Sun July 6, 2014

Tell Me, Wave, Where Did You Come From? Who Made You?

Robert Krulwich NPR

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 12:27 pm

"I'm sitting next to a swimming pool and somebody dives in," says the great physicist Richard Feynman in a conversation recorded in 1983. Other people jump in as well.

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Brain Candy
3:30 pm
Sat July 5, 2014

What Does Cold Sound Like? See If Your Ear Can Tell Temperature

That water sounds so cold.
iStockphoto

Originally published on Mon July 7, 2014 9:22 am

Can you hear the difference between hot and cold?

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Science
3:37 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Dance Of Human Evolution Was Herky-Jerky, Fossils Suggest

Our popular image of Homo erectus as the proto-guy who whose human-like traits all emerged at once needs overhauling, some anthropologists say.
Sylvain Entressangle Science Source

Originally published on Sat July 5, 2014 1:18 am

A trio of anthropologists has decided it's time to rewrite the story of human evolution.

That narrative has always been a work in progress, because almost every time scientists dig up a new fossil bone or a stone tool, it adds a new twist to the story. Discoveries lead to new arguments over the details of how we became who we are.

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Parallels
3:33 am
Fri July 4, 2014

Damming The Mekong River: Economic Boon Or Environmental Mistake?

Nearly everyone fishes for a living on Laos' Don Sadam Island, near the site of the controversial Don Sahang dam. Locals and environmentalists alike are worried about the dam's effects on fish migration.
Michael Sullivan NPR

Originally published on Fri July 4, 2014 10:50 am

It's 9 a.m. and the Mekong River at this hour is still peaceful: just a few fishermen casting nets into a large pool below the area called Si Phan Don, or "4,000 islands."

It's a popular tourist destination in Laos, where Southeast Asia's most storied river splits into nearly a dozen channels before coming together again below the islands of Si Phan Don, for the journey to Cambodia, Vietnam and the South China Sea. Cambodia is on my left, Laos to the right.

Suddenly, my guide points and says, "There!"

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